World / Offbeat

City of Houston blocks plans to open 'robot brothels'


The city of Houston on Wednesday blocked a Canadian businessman’s plans to open what local media dubbed a robot brothel, after an outcry from residents.

The KinkySdollS shop in Toronto was set to expand to the Texas city with dolls that the company says have interactive artificial intelligence and robotic technologies.

Customers would have been able to “rent before you buy” to try out the dolls before spending thousands of dollars to purchase one, but the plan caused a backlash from religious leaders, residents and politicians in Houston.

“This is not the sort of business that I’d like to see in the city of Houston,” Mayor Sylvester Turner told reporters after the city council voted to effectively ban any “robot brothels,” as local media have dubbed the business.

Updating a 20-year-old law, the city’s leaders expanded the definition of what can be regulated as a sexually oriented “arcade.”

The original law’s “focus was on human use, but now, so much is technology-driven,” Turner said.

The change of law effectively bars customers from using sex dolls or robots inside any Houston business.

“You can sell but you cannot use. You cannot engage in sexual activity with any inanimate object at the business,” Turner said.

KinkySdollS has been operating in Toronto for about a year.

“We are not a brothel,” the owner of the shop told the Toronto Sun in September. The newspaper said the man had asked to remain anonymous.

“We are a shop, and we are here to sell dolls to move inventory,” he said.